How to Use an Auger to Plant Trees

How to use an auger to plant trees is so easy. 

Digging holes in dirt to plant trees can be super time consuming.   But what if you’re stuck digging those post holes yourself? It’s easy when you have an auger to plant trees. 

Let’s find out how you can get those holes today! 

how to use an auger to plant trees
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How to Use an Auger to Plant Trees in 7 Steps

Here are the step by step instructions on how to drill holes for trees with an auger.

  1. Mark out your holes
  2. Pick out the proper sized auger bit for the job
  3. Start your holes with a shovel, making a small pilot hole for the auger
  4. Position your augers CenterPoint into the middle of the pilot hole
  5. Making sure the auger is at 90 degrees to the hole, start the engine
  6. Drill your holes out, starting slowly at first, then increasing the speed
  7. Repeat until the hole is big enough for your root ball
  8. Make sure that you “rough up” the walls of your hole so that your tree roots grow into the ground and not just around the hole you dug
  9. Put your tree inside the hole and fill the hole with dirt
  10. Leave about 1-2 inches of the root ball exposed above the hole and deeply water the roots

How to Use an Auger to Plant Trees: The Tools

On top of having the best tree planting auger, you will need a few extra tools on hand to get the holes dug for your trees. 

You will need a shovel, a wheelbarrow for the extra dirt, a digging bar to chip away at any roots you might run into, dislodge rocks, and loosening hard soil.   You could also look into getting a root slayer shovel, which is combines a few of these tools into one handy package. 

You might also need a clamshell digger to get rid of the dirt at the bottom of your hole or to dig deeper, if your tree auger blade bit isn’t long enough for your job. 

Size Matters: How to Use an Auger to Plant Trees 

Planting seedling trees is fine and dandy, even cheap.  But, that means you have to wait that much LONGER for your trees to grow and provide shade or fruit.  Instead, you can purchase trees or shrubs that are already quite large.   

This means you will need to drill a larger hole in the ground to plant them.  A planting auger that is good for bulbs just will not do.  The size of the holes they drill are only a wide enough for small planting. 

Look for an auger for planting trees that can drill a 6 inch to 12 inch hole in the ground.  This will reduce the amount of manual digging you’ll have to do with a shovel, pick, etc.  This same auger can also be used to drill fence post holes or holes of any kind you might need on your property.  You can also rent an auger for tree planting at your local hardware store. 

Safety First: Call Before You Dig!  

You never know what is underground on your property.  There are gas and water lines, power, just about anything.  Don’t take any risks.    

When planning your projects, always give yourself enough time to call the local utility information line and get the full details about what is running under your property.   

Also, you will want to make sure that your tetanus shots are up to date before digging around in the dirt.  I just learned that you need them updated every 10 years. 

How to Use an Auger to Plant Trees in Rocky Soil 

Most soil will have rocks in it.  Some soil will have more rocks and bigger rocks than other kinds.  If that’s the case on your property, you will need to use some extra tools and take a bit more time. 

When you are drilling a hole in the ground and you get to a rocky part, reverse your auger out of the hole or just simply pull in out.    

Taking your hands, shovel or clamshell digger, remove extra soil from the hole.  A digging bar is an important tool for you to have when dealing with rocky soil.  Now, take your digging bar and stab and pry at the rocks and hard soil to loosen them up. 

Now, remove those rocks/roots/hard soil from the hole.  You are now ready to put your auger machine back in the hole and keep drilling.  

How Deep Can a Tree Auger Drill Holes in the Ground?  

How deep can a tree auger dig?  While there is a bunch of tree augers available with different drilling depths, most standard augers dig down to about 3 feet.    

You can buy extensions or even new blades, that will get your hole to around 4-5 feet deep.  Some tree augers come with extensions, which can help keep costs down.  Make sure to double check the depth you need to dig and confirm that the tree auger you’re buying can dig as deep as you need to go. 

Using an Auger to Plant Trees: The Best Tool for Drilling Holes 

Getting through anything but the easiest soil will require both power and torque.  The best auger for planting trees will be able to get through roots, rocky and hard soil without too much effort or extra work. 

Storing Your Tree Planting Auger 

If you’re storing a gas powered auger, you will need to make sure that no water gets into the carb (or they get all gummed up).  Pour fuel stabilizer into the gas tank and run the engine to make sure it gets all the way through. 

Electric or propane augers are less or no fuss about the gas storage as you simply unplug or remove the propane cylinder before storing in an upright position. 

Ensure to store your auger upright and in an area that is safe from the weather and super cold temperatures.  Always store your auger standing straight up in a place where it won’t be bumped.  Don’t lean it up against a wall for example, you can damage the pump, engine and blade.   

Beware the Kickback

If you’re drilling in soil with roots or rocks, and your auger hits those while drilling, it may kickback. Kickback describes when your auger moves in a counterclockwise direction against you when it hits an obstruction like roots or rocks. This can happen each time you drill a hole so be prepared. Use the minimum amount of throttle required to drill your hole. Know where your kill switch is so you can quickly turn off your auger when it hits something big.

Tractor Augers and Planting Trees

If you have a bunch of trees to plant, or if you need big holes for larger mature trees, a tractor or skid steer auger is going to be your best bet to get the job done without breaking your back and in minimal time.


How to use an auger to plant trees is easier than most people think.  You can get your holes drilled and plants those trees ASAP! 

Can I use an auger to plant trees?

Yes an auger can be used to plant trees. In fact, i twill make your job a whole lot easier and faster if you have many trees or larger trees to plant. You can even use augers to plant saplings and veggie starters in your garden.

What is the easiest way to dig a hole to plant a tree?

Using an auger is the easiest way to dig a hole. Faster and easier on the body than digging a hole with a shovel.